Address by the President of the Republic of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, at the closing event of the celebration of Ten Years of Freedom, Athlone Stadium, Cape Town, 11 February 2005

Programme Director, Minister Essop Pahad
Honourable Deputy President, Jacob Zuma
Honourable Minister of Arts and Culture, Pallo Jordan
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Honourable Premier of the Western Cape, Ebrahim Rasool
Your Worship, Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Nomaindia Mfeketo
Members of the diplomatic corps
Distinguished guests
Comrades and fellow South Africans

I am delighted to have this opportunity to address you in this historic Athlone Stadium, which was once the arena for many of our rallies as we mobilised for our liberation from the apartheid system.

It is fitting that tonight we conclude the year-long celebration of a decade of freedom when we have just looked ahead, in the State of the Nation address, to what we all need to do to fulfil the promise we made fifty years ago in the Freedom Charter: that the people shall govern.

As we reflect on our achievements over the past decade, let us take this opportunity to re-dedicate ourselves to the task to give real meaning to the notion of freedom.

Dit is baie gepas dat ons vanaand die jaar lange feesvieringe van 'n dekade van vryheid afsluit, toe ons net vandag vooruit gekyk het, in die Staats Rede, na wat ons sal benodig, om die beloftes wat ons vyftig jaar gelede in die Vryheids Manifes gemaak het: dat die mense sal regeer.

En soos ons nou terug kyk op ons prestasies van die afgelope dekade, laat ons nou die geleentheid neem om onsself op nuut toe te spits op die ware betekenis van vryheid.

And surely the people gathered in Athlone tonight know well what we mean by "people's power", the "people's contract", and "the people shall govern". I say this because I know that many of us present here fully participated in our struggle for liberation, and many of you have continued to build and entrench our democracy wherever you are.

Because of this, all of us here and in the rest of the country have a duty to work together as government, community, labour and business to continue to help transform our living conditions with each one of us making our contribution. We should do so by consolidating the people's contract, ensuring that we work with local, provincial and national government to fight poverty and underdevelopment.

Ka lobaka lo, ba botlhe bao re leng teng fa, le lefatshe lotlhe re tlamegile go dira ga mmogo jaka mmuso, baagi, badiri le ba dikgwebo, go tswelela ka go fetola tsela eo batho ba rona batshelang ka yona. Motho yo mong le yo mong o tshwanetse go tsenya letsogo mo tirong e. Re tshwanetse go tiisa setlamo sa rona le baagi ba lefatshe la rona, go dira gammogo le bomasepala ba rona, diprofensi, le mmuso wa bogareng, go lwantshana le botlhoki le tshotlego.

We must use people's power daily to engage the challenges we face, whether they concern education in our schools or drug abuse and gangsterism in our communities, crime or corruption, bad governance or abuse of power. When we say - the people shall govern! - must mean that the people work closely with the governments they have elected to pursue the goal of a better life for all.

It also means that the people must intervene through the Letsema and Vuk'uzenzele campaigns to help eradicate poverty and underdevelopment.

For us as government, we will ensure that in the next decade we continue to attend to the important matter of fighting poverty, focusing on the task of ensuring that our economy creates more jobs to reduce the levels of unemployment.

At the same time we will continue to allocate resources to provide more people with housing, water, sanitation, electricity, properly equipped clinics and schools and other essential services that would ensure a better life for all. We will also ensure that those who are eligible for social grants, free basic water and electricity receive them.

Urulumente uza kuqhubeka ongeze kwiimali ezifunekayo zokwenzel' ukuthi abantu bafuman' izindlu, amanzi, iindawo zangasese, umbane, iiclinic nezikolo, neziny' izinto ezizakuthi sonke siphile kakuhle. Abo kufuneka bafumane iipension neegrant bazakuzifumana. Nabo kufuneka bafumane amanzi nogesi wamahala bazifumane ezo zinto.

During the next decade we should work harder to banish from our lives, racial and gender discrimination. We still have a lot of work to do in this regard, to realise our constitutional injunction that "South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity".

We need to relate to one another as true patriots and fellow citizens, and not as different human beings that are alien to one another, being only united by the fact that we populate the same land mass. This is one of the challenges of the next decade.

At continental and international level we will, in the next decade, continue to work for the renaissance of Africa and the creation of a better and equitable world; a world without discrimination and marginalisation; a world without poverty and underdevelopment; a world whose development and prosperity benefits all of humanity.

Comrades and friends:

This closing ceremony of the celebrations of our ten years of democracy means we have to intensify our work to overcome poverty and underdevelopment in our country. It means we have to ensure that when we celebrate twenty years of freedom, we should do so as a developed, prosperous and truly united nation, with the safety and security of our people, including women and children, guaranteed.

I am happy that we have the artists who will entertain us tonight. Through their music and dance they continue to send all of us the message of togetherness and of a people united. I trust that through their songs they will continue to help to unite our country and ensure that together we develop a common identity, enriched by our diversity.

I trust that through their songs they will help us to defeat the negative things that happen in our communities.

Because of the struggle we waged together to defeat apartheid, and because of what we have done together in the last 10 years to build the new South Africa, tonight we can boldly and proudly proclaim that Athlone Stadium is free, Rylands is free, Langa is free, Constantia is free, Cape Town is free, the Western Cape is free, South Africa is free and, across this magnificent land, South Africans, united in their diversity, are free.

Forward to the Second Decade of Freedom, Forward!

Let the music of celebration begin!

Na la dza vhathu!

Baie dankie.

Issued by: Government Communication and Information System (GCIS)
11 February 2005

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